Sunday, January 27, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Name: Phill Stroman aka THE SOULMAN. I’ve also been known as Phill Most Chill, but since this is a beat digging article, we won't get into my random rap alias.
Claim to Fame: Back in the 90's I wrote the "World of Beats" column for Rap Sheet magazine. I’ve produced a few indy 12"s over the years and sold records to most of the top hip-hop producers in the 90's at the Roosevelt and Marc Ballroom Soul Record Shows. I’ve also put out a bunch of break/sample mix tapes and CDs and done my thing on the internet with the World of Beats site and my latest, That Real Schitt blog.
Representing: I grew up in Connecticut, about a half hour from the Bronx, NY. I've been living in Philly since the mid 80's, so I rep Philly to the fullest these days.
Years in the Game: It all depends. I’ve been in the Hip Hop game, mostly as a spectator, since 1977 -78 (although I was buying a few breaks even back then). I started getting hard into copping break records around 1984. There are different levels to it, from record buying to break record buying to digging for beats to going hard at copping everything possible. As any vet will surely attest, when you get to that high level of attaining records, it's nowhere near the same thing as what you were doing when you first got into it.
Best Digging City or Town: Baltimore. Philly used to be real dope back in the heydays of diggin'. New York is the best if you're just shopping and not really diggin' and trying to find rare shit for $1.00. There’s probably no place that has records like New York, but you usually got to pay for them.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: My original Wildstyle breaks record that was used by Grand Wizard Theodore in the movie and my own Phill Most Chill acetates from 1989. You're not gonna get much rarer than those records.
Favorite Album Cover/s: The Sheba Baby soundtrack. Ain't much out there that’s gonna top Pam Grier in her prime.
Dollar Bin Miracle: Too many. I guess the most recent might be the Crashers' "Flight To Jamaica" / "Skank" 12" on Capo and Lee Moses' Time and Place. Damn, I can't even remember them all. There have been a ton of them.
Total Records Owned: It's been as high as 20,000, but today it's probably closer to 10,000. I really have no idea. Once you get to a certain level with records it's, “Just too damn many.”
Best Digging Story: One time I was in this big warehouse that probably had about three million records. There were records everywhere. It was just me, the guy running the warehouse, and this older lady digging through all these crates and boxes. So the guy running the place steps out for a minute, and the lady comes over to where I'm digging at. I hear her say to me with some kind of a European accent, "Excuse me, would you like some of this before I finish it?" I look up, and she's smiling at me while holding an album cover with lines of coke on it. I'm like, "What the fuck?!?" I tell her no thanks, then she's like, "It's some good shit, you don't know what you're missing" and proceeds to hoover the rest of the cocaine up through a dollar bill.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all, she starts in with the small talk, asking me where I'm from and if I'm married. She starts telling me about her love life and I'm like, "Oh shit, I can see where this is going." She tells me she's been having dreams involving sex and records and she's hoping to make them come true one day. "Maybe even today" she said while giving me the eye. Then suddenly, a midget came into the warehouse riding on a unicorn! Man, that was probably the wildest digging experience I ever had.
In case you missed the links at the top of the article, make sure to visit the World of Beats site and That Real Schitt blog. That Real Schitt blog is a hip-hop historian's dream come true.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Moving along, and keeping with my recent theme of digging, I just finished reading a great interview with The Soulman about digging and hip hop. For those who don't know, The Soulman is your favorite producers favorite record supplier. The guy makes people like me look like amateurs. His knowledge of music is so vast and deep that it's unfair.
Anyhow, big ups to Mr. Mass for hooking up this great read with some added visual and audio goodies.
Read it by clicking here.
Anyhow, big ups to Mr. Mass for hooking up this great read with some added visual and audio goodies.
Read it by clicking here.
Name: DJ Nes
Claim to Fame: I think the people that do know about me either know me from turntablism or doing radio.
Representing: I was born and raised in New Jersey. My parents came here from Queens, NY.
Years in the Game: I've been DJing since 1994. I started getting into turntablism around 95-96 after hearing the X-men, DJ Cash Money, ISP, and a few others. Around 1999 I met a couple of like minds down in Princeton and joined a show called For Those That Know on WPRB. At the same time I was DJing on Radio Ruckus in New Brunswick, WRSU, from around 1999-2001. I've been into digging up old records and samples since around 1996. I would mostly just play breaks while DJing or make mix tapes with them. Around 2000 I started trying out production and got an MPC XL2000. Nowadays I'm still doing mix tapes, beats, playing out when I can, and doing my blog.
Best Digging City or Town: Being that I'm from New Jersey, I think I would have to say my favorite spots are here in Jersey, and maybe even the record conventions on RT 22 in Springfield. I know a lot of good spots in Jersey, but a lot of good spots have closed. Los Angeles and Philadelphia have some good spots too. I think that you have to be from the area or know people in an area to really know about the good record stores, because there are some that don't advertise in the phone books or online. You need to put me up some good spots in MA.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: As for hip hop records, I would say my Souls of Mischief 93 Til’ Infinity LP. It’s a promotional copy on blue vinyl and it was one of the first records I bought when I started DJing, so it has sentimental value. I don't think it's really that rare or anything. Otherwise I’d say my Baby Huey's original LP or any of my Roy Ayers records.
Favorite Album Cover/s: There are a lot of good record covers, but one of my favorites is Neil Merryweather's Space Rangers. It looks like a poster for some cheesy 60's B movie.
Dollar Bin Miracle: I caught a lot of good dollar bin treats and a lot of good hip hop 12”'s from dollar bins, including Lord Shafiyq's “My Mic is on Fire', Radiance's “Micstro”, and three copies of the “Marley Marl Scratch” on Nia records. All of the Marley records were originals and one was sealed.
A lot of my best records were from the record library at WRSU. I was lucky enough to be around when they decided to get rid of most of their records. They were going to donate them to somebody, but before they did they told us we could grab whatever we wanted. I got a lot of crazy psych rock records, and I caught a copy of Lyn Christopher's S/T LP, the one with “Take Me with You”. That record is pretty rare.
Total Records Owned: I own around 4,000 quality records. I have 1,000 or so more in my basement at home but they aren't records you would want taking up space.
Best Digging Story: There is this spot I go to here in NJ that is only open on Saturdays from 11-4pm. At one point I was there every week dropping $30-50 on records, so the owner would hook me up. One day when I was there a guy came in off the street with a crate of old jazz records and sold them for $5. I watched the whole thing go down, and after the store owner bought them I asked if I could look through them.
There was a shitload of bangin’ jazz in this crate including funk jazz fusion, spiritual jazz, and lots of rare stuff. Off the top of my head he had Gary Bartz, Harold Alexander, Funk Inc, Herbie Hancock, a lot of rare Blue Note stuff. The dude who sold them didn't know what he was getting rid of, and they were all in decent shape. I asked him how much he wanted for the whole crate, and he hooked me up for $40, like a dollar each. There were maybe 40 - 50 records in the crate and they were all bangin’. That was one of my best scores. The thing about digging is that you have to get lucky sometimes and just be in the right place at the right time. When you do it's like magic, it makes all the work you put in worthwhile.
To check out DJ Nes's most excellent blog, click here.
To download his guest mix for the this is tommorow blog, click here.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I recently interviewed my homie from the West Vinroc for my Can You Dig It? series. In our interview he shared a story about finding a sample he used for a track of his called "Believe". Vin just sent me a short film he created about the making of that beat, and it's well worth checking out. Take a look and make sure to download the track by clicking here.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Name: Fishr Pryce
Claim to Fame: I am the Almighty Reverend Fishr J Pryce, part of Los Hip Hop Guys, and DJ for iCON the Mic King.
Representing: Dallas, Texas
Years in the Game: I’ve been in the game eight years, so I'm still a kid at this.
Best Digging City or Town: By default I'm going to have to say Dallas. Even though I've been on a few tours; I never really get to dig in other cities. Rappers never want to dig. It’s tough being in a city that you're pretty sure is full of records and not being able to find them. It’s like getting a late night call from a drunk chick, but she can't give you directions. I've come up on some dopeness in Dallas, but there are some top dogs digging here so it can be a struggle. Shout out to my Rehash boys, they are master diggers.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: Damn, this one is tough, but I would have to say my Ohio Players “Jive Turkey” 45. Not because it’s super rare or anything, but because it led me to produce the first beat I was completely happy with. Isn't that one of the main reasons for digging anyway? It’s cool to be that dude who has all the records, but if you're not doing anything with them, then what's the point?
Favorite Album Cover/s: Since the home boy DJ Enki already mentioned the Niagra titty, I’d say Grant Green's Visions. Dude is just sitting in a chair on the cool, and the shades he’s rocking make the cover for me. Me and my boy wanted to track down all the illest album covers and put them on shirts. I even have a one off of that Grant Green joint, but we never really did much else with that idea.
Dollar Bin Miracle: Jean Jacques Perrey’s Moog Indigo. There is a funny story behind that record. I'm sure most traveling diggers know of a place in Dallas called Bill’s. Bill is this old Rob Gordon (High Fidelity) type guy, and his store is a huge heap of scattered gems. He’s notorious for looking young men up and down and basing his prices on what he thinks of them.
On one trip to his shop me and my boy Ingtoo! spent hours going through the random boxes that were in his shop. In the one box that my boy skipped I pull Moog Indigo, which is famous for the EVA break. I also pulled this Texas Rangers record that I wanted to cop for the “Texas Ranger Rap” on it. I figured it would be cool to drop. When I went to check out Bill, he looked at both records, and said one dollar for Moog Indigo and 25 for the Texas Rangers record. I gave him my hard earned dollar for Moog Indigo and walked out laughing.
Total Records Owned: I think I'm between 2500-3000 now.
Best Digging Story: In 2002, I moved to San Marcos, TX to finish my college education. Mid summer I had to drive down there to go to orientation. My brother and I were driving around looking for a hotel to stay at, but before we found one, I saw a record store. I had him drop me off with my portable and told him to come back for me once he got a room.
45 minutes later I go back to our hotel room with Colonel Bagshot's “Oh! What a Lovely War” and the Cat People OST. I copped then for five bucks each. Shadow used “Oh! What a Lovely War” for his song “Six Days”. Cannibal Ox used the Cat People record and Los Hip Hop Guys used it for our first mix tape.
I got one other story for ya. An ex of mine used to tell me that I loved music and records more than her. I would tell her that she was wrong, which was a blatant lie. She decided that for me to prove my love for her, I would have to give her one of my prized records and never ask for it back. I said that I would bring her a record that weekend, since I stayed with her on the weekends. Not wanting to give up any of my prized pieces, I spent the rest of the week at the used bookstore digging for something that I could pawn off as a gem. On Friday, a few hours before she got off of work, I found a sealed Al Green Gets Next To You record. That record is nothing special, but I gave it to her and crafted a story about it being sampled by everybody, and that it was even more dope because it was sealed. She was shocked that I would part ways with such a gem, and that night she parted ways with her morals.
To learn more about Fishr Pryce, check out his personal MySpace page and the Los Hip Hop Guys MySpace page.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Name: Mr. Green
Claim to Fame: Right now it’s the song “Children Sing” that I produced for Pace Won. It's getting a lot of love in my home area, which means a lot to me. The radio stations I grew up listening to are playing my song, especially the Rutgers station, WRSU, and the show Radio Ruckus.
Mr. Green and Pace Won
Representing: I'm from Central New Jersey. I was born in New Brunswick and grew up right across the bridge in a small town called Highland Park. It’s the suburbs but there was always a lot of hip hop going on.
Years in the Game: I started DJing about 8 years ago. It was the most fun I had ever had, and I got really into scratching and got my skills up. One night my boy Dolla Bill, who was a Jungle DJ, let me spin at The Tunnel when it was still around, which was crazy. That was when I was still in High School. When I got to college I was still DJing, but I started messing around with beats with my roommate Volatile, who was focusing on rap at the time. I learned a few tricks but didn't really take it seriously; I was still mostly into DJing and scratching. Eventually I got my skills up to the point where people were letting me DJ their parties. I used to love playing classic hip hop records like Krs’s "Step into a World" and Gangstarr’s "Work" in front of a crowd of people. As much as I enjoyed classics, the masses wanted to hear pop records, most of which I hated. I tried to play along for about a year, but I think people could tell I wasn't into it.
Eventually, I quit. I went into seclusion as far as music goes around the beginning of 2005. I started going through the all the beats I had made in the past and realized that I had some really quality music. Around the same time I was invited to do a beat battle. I got a big reaction from the crowd, which made me realize that production was something I had to pursue. It was in that battle that I came up with the name Mr. Green. Throughout the years I hadn't had a name to use, and I needed one for the battle. I chose Mr. Green because of a recent encounter I had with the police (Laughs). So as far as production goes, it has been a little less than three years.
On April 15th, 2005 I made the decision that starting with production; hip hop was what I wanted to do with my life. I wrote a short list of goals and another list of rules. I wrote the lists to prevent myself from falling into the mainstream BS that I didn't want to be a part of. I didn't even realize it, but I was writing a manifesto for keeping the great music that I grew up listening to alive. The rules were basically,
1. Always rep your hometown/state.
2. Only make music that you would have approved of during the era when mainstream hip hop still sounded like hip hop.
3. Make your music get as big possible.
I've been following these three rules, and things are good.
Best Digging City or Town: I have to say NYC, simply because of the amount of vinyl shops. Bleecker Street alone has a dozen stores, and Fat Beats is within walking distance. There are so many great places to dig in NYC, just in Manhattan alone, like The Village.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: Krs One’s I Got Next, signed By Krs. I took it to a show he did in Brooklyn and got it signed. I have it on my wall and you can see it in the Pace Won and Mr. Green video for the song "Hip Hop".
Favorite Album Cover/s: Wow, that’s so tough. I used to love to look at Midnight Marauders because of all of the faces on the cover. I’d try to figure out who was who. I'm sure I’m not the only one who’s a fan of that cover. I literally used to look at it for hours on end. It was before the internet when finding a photo of a rapper was actually hard to do. But I think my favorite album cover is the first Gravediggaz. I love black and white photos and that one really set the mood for the entire album, which is one of my favorites.
Dollar Bin Miracle: I found the Lee Dorsey "Ride Your Pony/Get Out Of My Life Woman" record in perfect condition for something like four dollars one time. "Get Out Of My Life Woman" is my favorite drum break of all time. It's the one Biz Markie used on "Just a Friend".
Total Records Owned: I have about 2500. I myself bought about 500. 300 of those are hip hop records, and the other 200 are for sampling. I'm lucky enough to have a father who’s a music lover. He lets me dig from his entire collection and I've found some gold in there. I had to swear not to ever scratch with them before I could use them. When I used to DJ in high school he never would let me touch his stuff, but now that I’m simply sampling from them, he doesn't mind.
Best Digging Story: One time when I was digging in my fathers’ collection I found a record my uncle had made in the 70's. I was just flipping through and one of the record covers was a picture of my uncle with a big seventies Jew fro playing the banjo. His name is Bob Green and he’s a well known blue grass musician. I knew he was well known but I didn't realize that he had ever put out any vinyl. When I listened to the record, I immediately found something to sample and made a beat with it. The beat is pretty hot, it's still sitting on my computer, and I'm going to use it for something in the future.
To learn more about Mr. Green, check out his personal MySpace page and his MySpace page with Pace Won.
While visiting DJ Soul's blog I came across an amazing treasure...a megamix made by Dr. Dre back when he used to DJ. According to Soul, the tape dates all the way back to 1987, was sold exclusively at The Roadium Swap Meet, and uses over 300 bits and pieces of songs in 60 minutes. Needless to say, you need this in your collection. So download it. Now!
Dr Dre - 86' In The Mix
To read more about the tape, click here.
To visit DJ Soul's blog and get more dope mix tapes for free, click here.
Friday, January 11, 2008
For those of you who don't know, my man Cosmo Baker is a world class digger, DJ, writer, and overall solid human being. He was also the featured artist for my second installment of Can You Dig It? If you check his MySpace page, he often hooks up high quality mixes for free. Here's one that he posted a while ago featuring nothing but Diamond D cuts. Enjoy, and many thanks to Cosmo for hooking up this dope freebie.
To download Cosmo Baker's Diamond D (With The Dope Sound) mix click here.
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "You Can't Front feat. Sadat X & Lord Finesse"
Fat Joe "Flow Joe"
Ultimate Force "I'm Not Playing"
Diamond D "When It Pours It Rains"
Pharoahe Monch "The Light"
D.I.T.C. "Day One"
Oliver Sain "On The Hill"
Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Stephen Stills "Stop"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "Check 1 2"
Diamond D "This One feat. Busta Rhymes"
Showbiz & A.G. "Hard To Kill"
House Of Pain "Word Is Bond (Diamond D Remix)"
Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth "Bad Mutha"
Ultimate Force "Another Hit"
The Pharcyde "Groupie Therapy"
Tha Alkaholiks "The Next Level"
The Fugees "The Score"
Brand Nubian "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down (Diamond D Remix)"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "Best Kept Secret (45 King Remix)"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "Freestyle (Yo That's That Shit)"
A Tribe Called Quest "Show Business feat. Brand Nubian & Diamond D"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "Sally Got A One Track Mind (Showbiz Remix)"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "What You Seek"
Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics "Fuck What You Heard"
Showbiz & A.G. "Soul Clap"
Ultimate Force "Smooth As Suede"
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Name: DJ Steve1der
Claim to Fame: Well, I’m not really famous yet, but I guess my remixes would be my claim to fame. I sell remixes on Crooklyn Clan’s website and I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from those. In the DJ world, that would be where most people know me from.
Representing: I represent LA. I was born there, so I’ll always represent LA. LA all day everyday, that’s how I see it. I went to college in the Bay, so I’ve got a lot of love for the Bay Area. A lot of the DJs up there influenced me, like the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and Triple Threat DJs. There are a bunch of west coast DJs that influenced me over the years, especially The Beat Junkies, Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark, and Rob One. Rob One was a huge influence. He was the first mix tape DJ I ever really listened to whose creativity blew my mind. He opened a lot of doors in terms of doing mix tapes and just being creative with music in general.
Years in the Game: I’d say I’ve been DJing for about 10 years. I’ve been spinning professionally and making money so I can live off of DJing for about two years. Before that it was just house parties, birthdays, and small bars where you get 10% of the bar and come home with $60. I did that for years and years.
Best Digging City or Town: I haven’t done travel digging too much. I’ve heard of good spots, but LA is where I’ve done most of my digging, so I’d have to say LA.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: Al Hirt’s Soul in the Horn is one. Melvin Van Peeble’s Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death is another. That’s where Madlib got a lot of his Quasimoto samples from. It’s hard to find stuff Madlib has used. There are some producers where it’s really hard to find their samples, and he’s one of them. When I found that record I realized how much of the record he used, and how much of the Quasimoto character went with that record. Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death is kind of crazy. There’s a lot of rambling and craziness, just like the Quasimoto album.
Favorite Album Cover/s: I like Blue Note album covers. Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective is a dope one. I really like the Blue Note style of slick photography and cool colors.
Dollar Bin Miracle: I only have one. I found my dollar bin miracle record at Goodwill in LA. I was doing an underground hip hop group with my brother at the time called L.A.ment. We put a few 12”’s out, and one of the 12”’s we put out was called Inferno. I was looking through records at the Goodwill, and I saw a record called Danser’s Inferno. It looked really cheap, but I bought it off of the novelty of the cover.
I brought it home and listened to it, and it was pretty cool. It was jazz music, and I could tell it was a private pressing from a small label in New York. I started going on blogs and message boards and saw some people writing about it. Apparently it’s in demand amongst elite diggers who are really about record collecting. There aren’t really any breaks or samples on it; it’s more in demand for the rarity of it. My copy is kind of used, but I found out that it goes for up to $500 in mint condition, which was crazy to me. I posted that I had a copy on one of the boards, and Mr. Supreme hit me up saying he was willing to buy it off me. I knew that if he wanted it, it had to be a crazy record. To me, Mr. Supreme is one of the kings of digging. He’s from Seattle, and he’s in a crew called Soul Gorilla. I’m not even close to that guy in record collecting. He has released compilations of rare records from his collection; he’s that deep in the game.
Total Records Owned: Shit, I got one of those big Ikea shelves full of records, but I don’t know how many it fits. I’d say about 3000. I’ve never really counted them all, but I have enough to not keep track of. I haven’t played records for a while because I use Serato now, but I’m still always fiending to go digging. When Serato first came around, I got a little bit caught up in it. It kind of consumed my life, and I completely stopped digging. Now that I’ve settled into using Serato, I have more ambition to go out and buy more records. I want to get back to buying more records and trying to search for samples to make beats from. The hottest beats are still sample based, as Kanye always proves.
Best Digging Story: I don’t know if I have any super crazy stories. Whenever I dig, I always happen to find a lot of Alchemist samples. I don’t know why, but I attract myself to records that he samples. One time when I was digging I found an Alchemist sample and a Primo sample in the same day. The Primo sample was used for a song off of The Ownerz, and the Alchemist sample was from Prodigy’s “Stuck to You.”
That’s one of my favorite beats. That was a really exciting day of digging for me. I was grateful to find samples utilized by two producers that I really look up to. Days like that are the best digging days.
To find out more about DJ Steve1der, visit his MySpace page by clicking here.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Since posting my last State interview with Thomas Lennon, the Writers Guild of America, which includes many members of The State, has gone on strike against Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. While the overall outcome of the strike remains uncertain, Kerri Kenney has not let the strike spoil her sense of humor. In fact, for someone coming directly from the picket lines, she seemed in remarkably good spirits during our interview. She happily talked about her experiences picketing, the delays surrounding The State DVD, and David Wain and Ken Marino’s newest movie project. I’m pleased to present Kerri Kenney as the eighth installment in the Heavy in the Streets interview series with The State.
DJ Sorce-1: Hi Kerri. One of the first questions I wanted to ask was…
Kerri Kenney: Why am I so lame and calling at the wrong time (Laughs)?
DJ Sorce-1: (Laughs) No, not at all. How has the strike been going?
Kerri Kenney: It is what it is. Tom Lennon and I were just out on the picket line today. It’s definitely more upbeat when you’re with friends. I’m not a big fan of opposition. I’m such a rule follower that the whole strike thing is a tough one for me. I’m sort of just doing what I’m told. It’s hard for me to do stuff like block peoples cars. It’s not really like me to be that confrontational. I think most writers are sort of non-confrontational, so it makes for a bit of a strange atmosphere. It is what it is, and we have to do it. For what it is, it’s going well.
DJ Sorce-1: Do you think the writers are making some positive progress in terms of getting their demands heard?
Kerri Kenney: It’s hard to say. The studios are really big companies with a lot of money. But there is a lot of solidarity, which is great. I think that’s what is important right now, and about all we can do.
DJ Sorce-1: I’m behind you guys and I hope things work out for the best. I know it’s hard when you’re going up against people that have that much money and power. I’m sure it’s intimidating.
Kerri Kenney: Yeah. It’s hard when you’re a hyphenate too. I’m as much a writer as I am an actor and producer. So I get what’s going on, and I get it from all angles. I shot a movie last week with David Wain and Ken Marino. It was while the strike was happening, and they’re allowed to continue to shoot the movie. It’s bizarre to be shooting one day, picketing the next, and the shooting again the day after. It’s strange to sort of change hats like that.
DJ Sorce-1: Yeah, I’m sure. Have you had any really uncomfortable moments with people that you’ve worked with in the past?
Kerri Kenney: No, there hasn’t really been anything like that. I think everybody’s shrugging their shoulders and acknowledging that we’re in a tough position. There is a lot of support out there from the other unions. My husband is a director of photography and he works for two network television shows. His shows were the first two to shut down. Everybody knows that you have to follow your union. Every other union drives by and honks in support.
DJ Sorce-1: I read that people like Jay Leno have come by to hand out doughnuts.
Kerri Kenney: Yeah, I heard that as well. I haven’t been to that studio. I’ve only been at Fox and Paramount. I’ve seen the cast of How I Met Your Mother, Larry David, Matt Groening and lots of different people out there lending their support, which is nice.
DJ Sorce-1: That’s great. How are Ben and Tom dealing with it? I talked to Tom a little while ago, right before the strike, and we talked a lot about the treatment of screenwriters. In a way it was like foreshadowing for what’s been happening.
Kerri Kenney: We’ve kind of know this was going to be coming for a long time. I think we had hoped it wasn’t actually going to have to happen, but the idea of striking has been looming for a long time. The Screen Actor’s Guild contract is up in June, so the same thing may happen again. We’ll see. Tom and Ben are just doing their thing. It sort of feels like you’re still at work; it’s just a different kind of work. You’re out there walking around in circles and carrying a sign. We’re all still making jokes. We’re just doing it without writing it down and while walking in an oval (Laughs).
Reno on Strike
DJ Sorce-1: It’s good you guys are keeping a sense of humor about it. You, Tom, and Ben have always seemed to have a unique chemistry, as if you were a group within the group of The State. Has it been that way since the early days, or was that something that happened later on?
Kerri Kenney: I think for me it kind of happened later. Tom and Ben always wrote together quite a bit. I wrote a lot with Michael Black, so it seemed logical when Viva Variety happened. Tom and I are the two oldest friends within The State. We met as 16 year olds at summer acting camp our junior and senior years of high school. We’ve been close friends for 21 years. I’ve always loved Ben’s work and Tom and I have always worked together, but I think during The State we had different groups. It would change all the time. I would go through fazes where I would only write with David, and only write with Tom, or Michael Black.
DJ Sorce-1: While we’re talking about your writing for The State, two of my favorite skits that you’re in are the hormones skit and the road trip skit. Do you have any interesting inside information about either?
Kerri Kenney: There’s an interesting back story to the road trip one, which is that I totally forgot it even existed. When I was doing the DVD commentary recently, at the beginning of the skit, I was looking at the rest of The State going, “What is this? I’m in this? What am I doing?” I didn’t remember a thing about it. I was watching it as if I had never seen it before. I didn’t remember the punch line or any of the jukes. So it was fun. When you have a short term memory, you can re-enjoy your own TV shows. I swear to god I think I got ruffied and we shot that, because I remember nothing about it.
The hormones sketch was one that we started performing pretty early on. It was a stage piece. Before we had a TV show, we had a stage show that we did in college. We all were acting students, so we were spending our days in sweatpants rolling around on the floor, doing movements, and learning breathing out of our ass techniques…you know, fantastic $20,000 dollar a year kind of stuff. Some of our comedy was very physical then, and I think that may have come from those classes.
It was also fun to have sort of a racy, PG-13 sketch that we could do. We were never really gross for the sake of being gross. But I think with that sketch we loved the statement at the end that the unsatisfied girl was going to pleasure herself. It was kind of racy and raw. But at the same time it was kind of cute with all of the hormones in their swim caps practicing their baseball swings. It’s a really fun sketch to watch and it’s a lot of people’s favorites.
DJ Sorce-1: You talked a little bit about the role of the woman in the hormones skit. It must have been interesting being the only woman in an otherwise all male comedy troupe.
Kerri Kenney: Well, it never really felt that way, and I never felt like I had to make a statement. If anything it felt like, to me anyway, that we were all the same. I never felt separate in any way. I felt, in fact, when I met the guys, that we’d all sort of found each other finally, and that we’d found other parts of our own voice. I never felt like my voice was, “I’m the girl.” I just felt like 1/11th of the voice. I never felt like I had to be the voice of women or speak up for females or anything like that. We just felt like a unit.
It felt very asexual to me as a group. I was just as likely to make a balls joke as anybody else, and Ken was just as likely to play a woman as I was. It was very mixed up, in a great way. I was always respected, and I was like a sister to a lot of them. Plus my sense of humor is more masculine, if you want to put a gender on it. It’s kind of crude. I did one sketch called Kerri’s Day that poked fun at being the only female in The State. But nobody was really asking for my female commentary about being a member of The State. I just needed to write something for that weeks show. It wasn’t really a joke that needed to be told, and I wasn’t trying to make any kind of statement.
DJ Sorce-1: What is the story with The State DVD? I saw something about a delay and all the fans are anxiously awaiting its release.
Kerri Kenney: I’ll tell you the reason why it’s delayed, but I’m not sure about when it’ll be coming out. We started to make a deal with Comedy Central and Paramount to do a State movie. Everything is suspended at the moment because of the strike. But we’ve continued to talk within the group about the movie and what it’s going to be. The studios hope was to push the release of the DVD so that it corresponded with The State movie. Now that were not sure when The State movie will be, I couldn’t tell you when they are going to release the DVD. We have contacted them and said that because of the strike they may want to look into just releasing the DVD, but I’m not sure what came of that. David Wain usually deals with that stuff. He’s the business guy a lot of the time.
DJ Sorce-1: How do you feel about how the DVD was packaged and everything?
Kerri Kenney: I haven’t seen it. I would love to see it, but I haven’t. I only saw the pieces that we did commentary for.
DJ Sorce-1: Is there commentary for a lot of the skits?
Kerri Kenney: There is. We got together in groups on the east and west coast and did a lot of commentary. It was really fun. A lot of us hadn’t been in the same room as a group for many years. There are only a few videotapes of The State sketches, and a lot of us don’t even have those. It was great to see those sketches together after all those years. The only people who have all the episodes are the people who thought of taping them at the time.
Reno 911! Miami Premiere in Hollywood
DJ Sorce-1: Let’s talk a little bit about the show you’re doing with Tom and Ben, Reno 911! You guys recently did a movie. Were there any big differences between doing Reno 911! Miami and Reno 911! the show, and do you have a preference?
Kerri Kenney: The show and movie were both very similar. We made an effort to make the movie as much like the show as possible so our audience would enjoy it as much as new viewers. The main difference was shooting, writing, and editing time. It was very short. We’re normally producing 16 episodes at a time. The movie was an hour and half of material. That’s about five episodes. It felt easier and a little bit more carefree, with the exception of the looming idea that it was a feature film. But that was more exciting than anything. We had the same system down and the same crew we used for the show.
The main difference was that we were at South Beach, which is not at all like LA. For me it was also different because I had just had a baby. I had my son there with me, which was both challenging and exciting. If I had a preference I think it would be the movie. We did so much extra shooting that we ended up with an entirely separate movie which is on the DVD. Just from the nature of the show, we’re used to overshooting. We ended up with way more material than we needed. I like that. I like to really be able to pick through and use what we’re absolutely certain we want as opposed to saying, “We need something for the sake of time, so let’s stick this in.”
DJ Sorce-1: When I spoke to Tom, it sounded like a lot of Reno is improved. How much would you say is improv versus structured.
Kerri Kenney: All the dialogue is improved. The only things written for Reno are episode outlines. The movie needed a bit more structured outline because we needed to tell a story. But the dialogue is never scripted. For example, in the alligator scene from the movie, the script would say something like, “They go to a pool and find an alligator in a pool. A neighbor shows up. The neighbor is played by Chris Tallman.” And that’s it. Then we’ll call up Chris to find out what he wants to wear for the scene. We tell the wardrobe person what we want and set up a day and time for the scene. Then we say, “Action” and start shooting a bunch of stuff. A lot of it is unusable, and a lot of it is great. It’s the most fun way to shoot. Actors love it because it’s so freeing. When we’re done shooting, we work with a team of great editors and are really in there during the editing process.
DJ Sorce-1: Does the Reno cast hang out a lot off set when you aren’t shooting?
Kerri Kenney: People do in smaller groups. Cedric and Carlos are very close. Tom, Ben, and I are always busy doing lots of different stuff together. But as one big group not really. As individuals people are very active in other parts of their career. It’s a group that definitely doesn’t sit around and wait for Reno. Niecy Nash just sold a show and she has another TV show on E! Cedric is constantly in movies. Carlos is a stand up guy and a voiceover actor. Everybody is busy in their other lives. Niecy and I both have children. It’s not like it used to be with The State where it was like, “Hey dude come over to my apartment, we’ll write some skits and smoke some pot.” Everyone has careers and families now, so it’s quite different. But we do like each other, so when we get together, it is a lot of fun.
DJ Sorce-1: Where would you say your Trudy character ranks on your list of favorite roles?
Kerri Kenney: It’s definitely my most favorite. I could play her for a hundred years. I adore her. I would love to be able to just say whatever comes into my mind in life. I don’t want to be as ignorant, racist, or inappropriate as her. But I love her innocence. That’s something about her that makes her really freeing and fun to play. I’m much more concerned about how I come off as a person in my daily life. As I said before I’m a rule follower. I’m not as inappropriate as Trudy on any level. I don’t want to sound all actory and say, “She cracks me up”, but sometimes the things that come out of my mouth when I’m truly just trying to be Trudy crack me up. She’s a character that allows you to go to some ridiculous places as an actor.
DJ Sorce-1: I feel like the movie really allowed Trudy to shine, especially in the beach scene.
Kerri Kenney: We had so much fun doing that. Niecy and I always have a blast together.
DJ Sorce-1: It’s pretty cool that you’re a member of the all female rock group Cake Like. Can you give some quick background on the group and talk about if you have any current project you’re working on?
Kerri Kenney: We haven’t played together in several years, mostly because I live in LA now, and Jody Seifert and Nina Hellman live in New York City. The band started in New York, and we started just for fun. I was the singer and the bass player. We made a record with John Zorn on a Japanese import label. It was just a little record. Ric Ocasek heard it and loved it, and ended up playing it for Neil Young. Neil Young was starting a label on Vapor records. Ric Ocasek produced us and we did two records on Vapor records with Neil Young. We also did the H.O.R.D.E. tour and toured with Neil Young around the US and Europe quite a few times.
We had some videos on MTV, and we did well. Our first record got three and a half stars in Rolling Stone. We also got two pages in Spin magazine. We were quite successful for a bunch of girls who were just doing it to have fun in the beginning. By nature of the fact that we didn’t know what we were doing, we couldn’t copy anybody, and we had a pretty unique sound. It was really fun. I’m still very close with both Jody and Nina, and we still hope to play together again when we can put the kids down for five minutes and get in the same city.
"Lorraine's Car" by Cake Like
DJ Sorce-1: For my last question I wanted to ask you about the new movie Ken Marino and David Wain are making called Little Big Men. What can you tell me about it?
Kerri Kenney: It’s so fun to shoot with David, Ken, and Paul Rudd. This time David and Ken get to run around with a bunch of money, which is new for us. We’re really used to doing smaller projects. When you work with a big studio, you have a lot more resources. David will write a little joke about something and they end up building a huge set around it. It’s really fun to watch. I was only there for the days I was shooting my scenes, which wasn’t that many, but I have a good feeling about the movie. It looks like it’s going to be really funny, and there is a lot of improv in it. Those guys are great and I would love to keep making movies with all of them.
To order a Cake Like CD, click here. To check out Kerri's impressive resume at IMDB click here.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Claim to Fame: I’m a former two time ITF World Champion DJ, a member of the 5th Platoon and the Triple Threat DJ’s, and I've produced music for some commercials as well…but I'm not sure if that’s a claim to fame. My music has been used in advertisements by Best Buy, an ad that Nike did for Lebron James a few years ago, and some stuff for Comedy Central. I did an album a few years ago with Triple Threat called Many Styles that featured Souls of Mischief amongst others. I also did a remix for a Kweli track.
The 5th Platoon DJ's Circa '98
The Triple Threat DJ's
Representing: These days I represent the Bay Area. I've been in the Bay for 10 years so I'm pretty much a liberal hippy hopper now. I got my flavor from growing up in Dirty Jerz, specifically Jersey City, which is home to the Flavor Unit, Joe Budden, the first World Trade Center bomber, and the Pulaski Skyway which is used in the opening credits for The Sopranos.
Years in the Game: 20 give or take. I’ve been making beats since 1998-99.
Best Digging City or Town: I don’t have a favorite. I kind of find what I'm looking for when it finds me.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: Wow, so many...I don’t really have one. I found the last record I was really happy to get a few weeks ago while I was digging. It was some old Richie Havens record. I remember it made me feel real happy to get it. I haven’t had a chance to sit with it yet, but I heard one song on it that I liked before buying it. I hope the rest is just as intriguing. I have no favorites, just what I like at the moment.
Favorite Album Cover/s: I used to paint a lot when I was younger, so I love album covers. Sometimes I don’t remember the names of artists and records, but rather the covers. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. It reminds me of Dali.
Dollar Bin Miracle: Invitation by Norman Connors was a good one. I’ve found James Brown, Bob James, Herbie Mann and other great stuff at garage sales and Good Will dirt cheap.
Total Records Owned: Not that many, to be honest. I'm not a real digger. I just find things by accident or cover design, and stick with what I like. I probably have two Ikea shelves of cool records that I use to sample. I used to have a lot more wax that I played for clubs. Those records have been consolidated since the advent of Serato, but I still love older records for the production values they had back then. You just don’t here music like that no more.
The idea of the knowledgeable digger is changing and so is the exclusivity of it. Nowadays finding the source material is not as hard as it use to be, but doing something cool with it is still the challenge. I think the point of digging is to find inspiration. That’s the whole theory of sampling anyway; the sample is a point of inspiration. You find the inspiration and then you add your personal flavor or energy to it.
I remember digging with a real prominent digger type when I was new to the game. I was flipping through records and I remember him saying in so many words, “You don’t even know what you’re holding." I still really don’t know, but I've always found music that inspired me and stuck with what I liked. That works fine for me. As long as I enjoy it, that’s the point. I don’t care how or where I get my inspiration.
Best Digging Story: They're all great. Each record has a story. One time while I was digging I found this Eddie Kendricks record. It was at a point in my life when I was really in doubt of my capabilities. Everyone has self doubt at times. I picked it up because I've always liked Eddie's records. I had no idea what was on it.
When I first listened to it, I found this line where he sings, "You must believe." It’s not a real melodic part of the record, but I went with it because it inspired me. It spoke to how I was feeling at that particular moment in time. It's one of my favorite beats that I've ever made. I read no sample website or books to tell me to buy that record, I just bought it. That’s digging to me. It’s serendipitous at times. Just like life, sometimes you don’t know shit about where you’re going, but if you keep looking and trying, it finds you. That’s how I see it anyway. In the end, I guess I really don’t know much about digging. I just do it.
Download Vinroc's track "Believe" by clicking here.
Special thanks to Vinroc for letting me post this track as a special treat.
To find out more about Vinroc you can visit his MySpace page by clicking here. Also make sure to visit the 5th Platoon website and the Triple Threat DJ's website.